+ A

Samsung factories ready to make 5G and foldable phones

Jan 18,2019
이미지뷰
Top: Kim Hyun-suk, president and head of Samsung Electronics’ consumer electronics division announces the company’s plan to release the world’s first 5G smartphone in Korea and the United States during a press briefing held at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas. Above: Rendered image of Galaxy S10 using leaked photos. The image was produced by a mobile device expert using Chinese Twitter account @Universelce. [KIM YOUNG-MIN, TWITTER]
Samsung Electronics is ready to roll out both 5G and foldable phones, two of most highly-anticipated products from the electronics company.

While Samsung has already announced a plan to introduce new Galaxy phones at an unpacking event next month in San Francisco, JoongAng Ilbo was able to confirm on Tuesday that Samsung’s global production base in Vietnam has completed preparation to mass-produce 5G phones.

The 5G phone is tentatively called “Galaxy S10 X.”

Two Samsung factories, located in the provinces of Bac Ninh and Thai Nguyen, both north of Hanoi, produce 150 million smartphones a year. The 5G-enabled version of Galaxy S10 produced in Vietnam will be exported globally, starting with the United States. The first one million units of Samsung’s first foldable phone will be produced at the company’s production plant in Gumi, North Gyeongsang.

The 5G phone “will roll out three to four weeks after the basic Galaxy S10 model hits the market. However, we have finished all preparations to mass produce a 5G phone,” a source from Samsung Electronics told the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity.

The phone will likely be introduced during the unpacking event on Feb. 20 along with three other versions of Samsung’s 10th-generation Galaxy family: S10, S10+ and S10 light.

Phones that can connect to the 5G network are expected to bring revolutionary changes in media consumption habits. A 5G phone can download a 1.5 gigabyte movie in under a second.

Samsung’s first 5G phone is likely to come with a 6.7-inch screen, larger than the 6.1-inch screen of S10 or 6.4-inch screen of S10+.

The 5G-connected S10 will be powered by the Exynos 9820 chipset.

Though it is designed for 5G connections, the phone will still be able to connect to 4G LTE as 5G infrastructure development is still underway. Even in Korea, where 5G infrastructure is quickly being built, next-generation connectivity is a work in progress.

Samsung will first supply 5G phones to five telecom companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, all in the United States, and SK Telecom and KT in Korea

Although the 5G phone will be introduced at the unpacking event, the actual launch of the model will come a bit later than the new S10s.

While basic versions will be released in early March, the actual 5G-capable models will be available at the end of March.

Samsung has greatly tightened security at its S10 production sites in Vietnam factories after a picture of the Galaxy S10 was leaked online.

As for the company’s foldable phone, tentatively dubbed the “Galaxy F,” initial production will take place at the Gumi plant. Industry sources project that Samsung is likely to introduce the foldable phone at the unpacking event as well, but will release the phone April at the earliest.

Federico Casalegno, head of the Samsung Design Innovation Center in North America, said “the foldable phone is a breakthrough in technology innovation,” during a press briefing with reporters last week.

Industry insiders say the main reason for making foldable phones at the local Gumi plant is to prevent technology leaks and better control the initial production volume of the phone.

“We are not yet ready to mass-produce foldable phones as well in Vietnam,” a spokesperson from Samsung said. “The first one million units of foldable phones and 5G phones to be sold in the Korean market will be produced at the Gumi plant, which is in charge of producing our premium products.”


BY KIM YOUNG-MIN [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]